The loss of chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) expression, associated with C9ORF72 repeat expansions, has not been examined systematically. Three C9ORF72 transcript variants have been described thus far; the GGGGCC repeat is located between two non-coding exons (exon 1a and exon 1b) in the promoter region of transcript variant 2 (NM_018325.4) or in the first intron of variant 1 (NM_145005.6) and variant 3 (NM_001256054.2). We studied C9ORF72 expression in expansion carriers (n = 56) for whom cerebellum and/or frontal cortex was available. Using quantitative real-time PCR and digital molecular barcoding techniques, we assessed total C9ORF72 transcripts, variant 1, variant 2, variant 3, and intron containing transcripts [upstream of the expansion (intron 1a) and downstream of the expansion (intron 1b)]; the latter were correlated with levels of poly(GP) and poly(GA) proteins aberrantly translated from the expansion as measured by immunoassay (n = 50). We detected a decrease in expansion carriers as compared to controls for total C9ORF72 transcripts, variant 1, and variant 2: the strongest association was observed for variant 2 (quantitative real-time PCR cerebellum: median 43 %, p = 1.26e-06, and frontal cortex: median 58 %, p = 1.11e-05; digital molecular barcoding cerebellum: median 31 %, p = 5.23e-10, and frontal cortex: median 53 %, p = 5.07e-10). Importantly, we revealed that variant 1 levels greater than the 25th percentile conferred a survival advantage [digital molecular barcoding cerebellum: hazard ratio (HR) 0.31, p = 0.003, and frontal cortex: HR 0.23, p = 0.0001]. When focusing on intron containing transcripts, analysis of the frontal cortex revealed an increase of potentially truncated transcripts in expansion carriers as compared to controls [digital molecular barcoding frontal cortex (intron 1a): median 272 %, p = 0.003], with the highest levels in patients pathologically diagnosed with frontotemporal lobar degeneration. In the cerebellum, our analysis suggested that transcripts were less likely to be truncated and, excitingly, we discovered that intron containing transcripts were associated with poly(GP) levels [digital molecular barcoding cerebellum (intron 1a): r = 0.33, p = 0.02, and (intron 1b): r = 0.49, p = 0.0004] and poly(GA) levels [digital molecular barcoding cerebellum (intron 1a): r = 0.34, p = 0.02, and (intron 1b): r = 0.38, p = 0.007]. In summary, we report decreased expression of specific C9ORF72 transcripts and provide support for the presence of truncated transcripts as well as pre-mRNAs that may serve as templates for RAN translation. We further show that higher C9ORF72 levels may have beneficial effects, which warrants caution in the development of new therapeutic approaches.
C9ORF72; Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Motor neuron disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Disease modifier
To understand how a model of Alzheimer disease pathophysiology based on β-amyloidosis and neurodegeneration predicts the regional anatomic expansion of hypometabolism and atrophy in persons with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
To define the role of β-amyloidosis and neurodegeneration in the subsequent progression of topographic cortical structural and metabolic changes in MCI.
Longitudinal, observational study with serial brain imaging.
Ninety six MCI participants (all >70 years) with serial imaging biomarkers from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging or Mayo Alzheimer Disease Research Center. Participants were characterized initially as having elevated or not elevated brain β-amyloidosis (“A+” or “A−“) based on 11C-Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography (PET). They were further characterized initially by the presence or absence of neurodegeneration (“N+” or “N−“), where presence of neurodegeneration was defined by abnormally low hippocampal volume or hypometabolism in an Alzheimer Disease (AD)-like pattern on 18fluoro-deoxyglucose (FDG) PET.
Main Outcome Measures
Regional FDG Standardized Uptake Value ratio (SUVR) and grey matter volumes in medial temporal, lateral temporal, lateral parietal and medial parietal regions.
In the primary regions of interest, the A+N+ group had lower FDG SUVR and grey matter volumes at baseline, and showed large declines in FDG SUVR and grey matter volumes compared to the A−N+ and A−N−, but not the A+N− group. The A+N− group exhibited declines in FDG SUVR over time, which were not significantly different from the A−N+ or A−N− groups. The A−N+ group did not show declines in FDG SUVR or grey matter volume compared to A+N− or A−N− groups.
Conclusions and Relevance
Persons with MCI who were A+N+ demonstrated volumetric and metabolic worsening in temporal and parietal association areas, consistent with the expectation that the MCI stage in the Alzheimer pathway heralds incipient isocortical involvement. The A−N+ group, those with suspected non-Alzheimer pathophysiology, lacked a distinctive longitudinal volumetric or metabolic profile.
To predict the risk of probable dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) competing with Alzheimer disease (AD) dementia by hippocampal volume (HV) in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) with impairments in amnestic or nonamnestic cognitive domains.
Patients with MCI (n = 160) from the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, who participated in an MRI study at baseline from 2005 to 2014, were followed with approximately annual clinical evaluations. HVs were analyzed from 3T MRIs using FreeSurfer (5.3). Hippocampal atrophy was determined from the most normal 10th percentile of the measurement distributions in a separate cohort of clinically diagnosed patients with AD dementia. The subdistribution hazard ratios for progression to probable DLB and AD dementia were estimated by taking into account the competing risks.
During a median (range) follow-up of 2.0 (0.7–8.1) years, 20 (13%) patients with MCI progressed to probable DLB, and 61 (38%) progressed to AD dementia. The estimated subdistribution hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) for normal HV relative to hippocampal atrophy for progression to AD dementia was 0.56 (0.34–0.91; p = 0.02) after taking into account the competing risks. The estimated hazard ratio for normal HV relative to hippocampal atrophy for progression to probable DLB was 4.22 (1.42–12.6; p = 0.01) after adjusting for age and after including the MCI subtype in the model.
Preserved hippocampal volumes are associated with increased risk of probable DLB competing with AD dementia in patients with MCI. Preservation of HV may support prodromal DLB over AD, particularly in patients with MCI with nonamnestic features.
To understand the neuropsychological basis of dementia risk among persons in the spectrum including cognitive normality and mild cognitive impairment.
We quantitated risk of progression to dementia in elderly persons without dementia from 2 population-based studies, the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) and Mayo Clinic Study of Aging (MCSA), aged 70 to 89 years at enrollment. Baseline cognitive status was defined by performance in 4 domains derived from batteries of neuropsychological tests (that were similar but not identical for FHS and MCSA) at cut scores corresponding to SDs of ≤−0.5, −1, −1.5, and −2 from normative means. Participants were characterized as having no cognitive impairment (reference group), or single or multiple amnestic or nonamnestic profiles at each cut score. Incident dementia over the following 6 years was determined by consensus committee at each study separately.
The pattern of hazard ratios for incident dementia, rates of incident dementia and positive predictive values across cognitive test cut scores, and number of affected domains was similar although not identical across the FHS and MCSA. Dementia risks were higher for amnestic profiles than for nonamnestic profiles, and for multidomain compared with single-domain profiles.
Cognitive domain subtypes, defined by neuropsychologically derived cut scores and number of low-performing domains, differ substantially in prognosis in a conceptually logical manner that was consistent between FHS and MCSA. Neuropsychological characterization of elderly persons without dementia provides valuable information about prognosis. The heterogeneity of risk of dementia cannot be captured concisely with one test or a single definition or cutpoint.
To determine the frequency and topographic distribution of cerebral microbleeds (CMBs) in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) in comparison to CMBs in Alzheimer disease dementia (AD).
Consecutive probable DLB (n= 23) patients who underwent 3-tesla T2* weighted gradient-recalled-echo MRI, and age and gender matched probable Alzheimer’s disease patients (n=46) were compared for the frequency and location of CMBs.
The frequency of one or more CMBs was similar among patients with DLB (30%) and AD (24%). Highest densities of CMBs were found in the occipital lobes of patients with both DLB and AD. Patients with AD had greater densities of CMBs in the temporal lobes and deep or infratentorial regions compared to DLB (p<0.05)
CMBs are as common in patients with DLB as in patients with AD, with highest densities observed in the occipital lobes, suggesting common pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying CMBs in both diseases.
Dementia with Lewy bodies; Cerebral Microbleeds; Alzheimer disease; Cerebral amyloid angiopathy; T2* weighted gradient-recalled-echo MRI
The genetics underlying posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), typically a rare variant of Alzheimer's disease (AD), remain uncertain.
We genotyped 302 PCA patients from 11 centers, calculated risk at 24 loci for AD/DLB and performed an exploratory genome-wide association study.
We confirm that variation in/near APOE/TOMM40 (P = 6 × 10−14) alters PCA risk, but with smaller effect than for typical AD (PCA: odds ratio [OR] = 2.03, typical AD: OR = 2.83, P = .0007). We found evidence for risk in/near CR1 (P = 7 × 10−4), ABCA7 (P = .02) and BIN1 (P = .04). ORs at variants near INPP5D and NME8 did not overlap between PCA and typical AD. Exploratory genome-wide association studies confirmed APOE and identified three novel loci: rs76854344 near CNTNAP5 (P = 8 × 10−10 OR = 1.9 [1.5–2.3]); rs72907046 near FAM46A (P = 1 × 10−9 OR = 3.2 [2.1–4.9]); and rs2525776 near SEMA3C (P = 1 × 10−8, OR = 3.3 [2.1–5.1]).
We provide evidence for genetic risk factors specifically related to PCA. We identify three candidate loci that, if replicated, may provide insights into selective vulnerability and phenotypic diversity in AD.
Posterior cortical atrophy; Alzheimer's disease; Genetics; GWAS; Selective vulnerability; APOE
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is the second leading cause of neurodegenerative dementia in the elderly and is clinically characterized by the presence of cognitive decline, parkinsonism, REM sleep behavior disorder, and visual hallucinations.1,2 At autopsy, α-synuclein–positive Lewy-related pathology is observed throughout the brain. Concomitant Alzheimer disease–related pathology including amyloid plaques and, to a lesser degree, neurofibrillary tangles are often present.2 The clinical characteristics of DLB share overlapping features with Alzheimer disease dementia (AD) and Parkinson disease (PD). A recent genetic association study examining known hits from PD and AD identified variants at both the α-synuclein (SNCA) and APOE loci as influencing the individual risk to DLB.3 These findings would suggest that DLB may be a distinct disease with shared genetic risk factors with PD and AD.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TAR DNA binding protein 43 inclusions (FTLD-TDP) is the most common pathology associated with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) and mutations in progranulin (GRN) are the major known genetic causes of FTLD-TDP; however, the genetic etiology in the majority of FTLD-TDP remains unexplained.
In this study, we performed whole-genome sequencing in 104 pathologically confirmed FTLD-TDP patients from the Mayo Clinic brain bank negative for C9ORF72 and GRN mutations and report on the contribution of rare single nucleotide and copy-number variants in 21 known neurodegenerative disease genes. Interestingly, we identified 5 patients (4.8%) with variants in optineurin (OPTN) and TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) that are predicted to be highly pathogenic, including two double mutants. Case A was a compound heterozygote for mutations in OPTN, carrying the p.Q235* nonsense and p.A481V missense mutation in trans, while case B carried a deletion of OPTN exons 13–15 (p.Gly538Glufs*27) and a loss-of-function mutation (p.Arg117*) in TBK1. Cases C–E carried heterozygous missense mutations in TBK1, including the p.Glu696Lys mutation which was previously reported in two amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients and is located in the OPTN binding domain. Quantitative mRNA expression and protein analysis in cerebellar tissue showed a striking reduction of OPTN and/or TBK1 expression in 4 out of 5 patients supporting pathogenicity in these specific patients and suggesting a loss-of-function disease mechanism. Importantly, neuropathologic examination showed FTLD-TDP type A in the absence of motor neuron disease in 3 pathogenic mutation carriers.
In conclusion, we highlight TBK1 as an important cause of pure FTLD-TDP, identify the first OPTN mutations in FTLD-TDP, and suggest a potential oligogenic basis for at least a subset of FTLD-TDP patients. Our data further adds to the growing body of evidence linking ALS and FTD and suggests a key role for the OPTN/TBK1 pathway in these diseases.
Whole-genome sequencing; FTLD-TDP; OPTN; TBK1; oligogenic mechanism
It is essential to determine the specificity of AV-1451 PET for tau in brain imaging by using pathological comparisons. We performed autoradiography in autopsy-confirmed Alzheimer disease and other neurodegenerative disorders to evaluate the specificity of AV-1451 binding for tau aggregates.
Tissue samples were selected that had a variety of dementia-related neuropathologies including Alzheimer disease, primary age-related tauopathy, tangle predominant dementia, non-Alzheimer disease tauopathies, frontotemporal dementia, parkinsonism, Lewy body disease and multiple system atrophy (n = 38). Brain tissue sections were stained for tau, TAR DNA-binding protein-43, and α-synuclein and compared to AV-1451 autoradiography on adjacent sections.
AV-1451 preferentially localized to neurofibrillary tangles, with less binding to areas enriched in neuritic pathology and less mature tau. The strength of AV-1451 binding with respect to tau isoforms in various neurodegenerative disorders was: 3R + 4R tau (e.g., AD) > 3R tau (e.g., Pick disease) or 4R tau. Only minimal binding of AV-1451 to TAR DNA-binding protein-43 positive regions was detected. No binding of AV-1451 to α-synuclein was detected. “Off-target” binding was seen in vessels, iron-associated regions, substantia nigra, calcifications in the choroid plexus, and leptomeningeal melanin.
Reduced AV-1451 binding in neuritic pathology compared to neurofibrillary tangles suggests that the maturity of tau pathology may affect AV-1451 binding and suggests complexity in AV-1451 binding. Poor association of AV-1451 with tauopathies that have preferential accumulation of either 4R tau or 3R tau suggests limited clinical utility in detecting these pathologies. In contrast, for disorders associated with 3R + 4R tau, such as Alzheimer disease, AV-1451 binds tau avidly but does not completely reflect the early stage tau progression suggested by Braak neurofibrillary tangle staging. AV-1451 binding to TAR DNA-binding protein-43 or TAR DNA-binding protein-43 positive regions can be weakly positive. Clinical use of AV-1451 will require a familiarity with distinct types of “off-target” binding.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40478-016-0315-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
AV-1451; Tau; Alzheimer’s disease; TDP-43; Pick Disease; Corticobasal degeneration; Progressive supranuclear palsy; Tauopathy; Pick’s disease; Atypical Alzheimer’s disease; Frontotemporal dementia
Many patients with dementia with Lewy bodies have overlapping Alzheimer's disease (AD)–related pathology, which may contribute to white matter (WM) diffusivity alterations on diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Consecutive patients with DLB (n=30), age and sex matched AD patients (n=30), and cognitively normal controls (CN; n=60) were recruited. All subjects underwent DTI, 18F 2-fluoro-deoxy-d-glucose (FDG) and 11C Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) PET scans. DLB patients had reduced fractional anisotropy (FA) in the parieto-occipital WM but not elsewhere compared to CN, and elevated FA in parahippocampal WM compared to AD patients, which persisted after controlling for Aβ load in DLB. The pattern of WM FA alterations on DTI was consistent with the more diffuse posterior parietal and occipital glucose hypometabolism of FDG PET in the cortex. DLB is characterized by a loss of parieto-occipital WM integrity, independent of concomitant AD-related Aβ load. Cortical glucose hypometabolism accompanies WM FA alterations with a concordant pattern of gray and white matter involvement in the parieto-occipital lobes in DLB.
dementia with Lewy bodies; diffusion tensor imaging; white matter integrity; amyloid-beta load; voxel-based analysis; cortical hypometabolism
To determine risk and protective factors for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) among persons 85 years and older.
Participants in the population-based prospective Mayo Clinic Study of Aging were comprehensively evaluated at baseline and at 15 monthly intervals to determine incident MCI. At baseline, lifestyle factors in midlife and late life were assessed by self-reported questionnaire; vascular and comorbid conditions were abstracted from participants' medical records.
Of 256 participants who were cognitively normal at enrollment (median age 87.3 years, 62% women), 121 developed MCI at a median 4.1 years of follow-up. Predictors of MCI were APOE ε4 allele (hazard ratio [HR] 1.89; p = 0.008), current depressive symptoms (HR 1.78; p = 0.02), midlife onset of hypertension (HR 2.43; p = 0.005), increasing number of vascular diseases (HR 1.13; p = 0.02), and chronic conditions from the Charlson Comorbidity Index (HR 1.08; p = 0.006). Models were adjusted for sex and education, with age as the time variable. The risk of MCI was reduced for participants who reported engagement in artistic (HR 0.27; p = 0.03), craft (HR 0.55; p = 0.02), and social (HR 0.45; p = 0.005) activities in both midlife and late life, and in the use of a computer in late life (HR 0.47; p = 0.008).
Chronic disease burden increases risk of MCI, whereas certain lifestyle factors reduce risk in persons 85 years and older. This implies that preventive strategies for MCI may need to begin in midlife and should persist throughout late life.
To determine the utility of longitudinal MRI measurements as potential biomarkers in the main genetic variants of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), including microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT) and progranulin (GRN) mutations, and C9ORF72 repeat expansions, as well as sporadic FTD.
In this longitudinal study, 58 subjects were identified that had at least two MRI and MAPT mutations (n=21), GRN mutations (n=11), C9ORF72 repeat expansions (n=11) or sporadic FTD (n=15). A total of 198 serial MRI were analyzed. Rates of whole brain atrophy were calculated using the boundary-shift integral. Regional rates of atrophy were calculated using tensor-based morphometry. Sample size estimates were calculated.
Progressive brain atrophy was observed in all groups, with fastest rates of whole brain atrophy in GRN, followed by sporadic FTD, C9ORF72 and MAPT. All variants showed greatest rates in frontal and temporal lobes, with parietal lobes also strikingly affected in GRN. Regional rates of atrophy across all lobes were greater in GRN compared to the other groups. C9ORF72 showed greater rates of atrophy in left cerebellum and right occipital lobe than MAPT, and sporadic FTD showed greater rates in anterior cingulate than C9ORF72 and MAPT. Sample size estimates were lowest using temporal lobe rates in GRN, ventricular rates in MAPT and C9ORF72, and whole brain rates in sporadic FTD.
These data support the utility of using rates of atrophy as outcome measures in future drug trials in FTD and show that different imaging biomarkers may offer advantages in the different variants of FTD.
MRI; longitudinal; frontotemporal dementia; genetics; tensor-based morphometry
Biological pathways that significantly contribute to sporadic Alzheimer’s disease are largely unknown and cannot be observed directly. Cognitive symptoms appear only decades after the molecular disease onset, further complicating analyses. As a consequence, molecular research is often restricted to late-stage post-mortem studies of brain tissue. However, the disease process is expected to trigger numerous cellular signaling pathways and modulate the local and systemic environment, and resulting changes in secreted signaling molecules carry information about otherwise inaccessible pathological processes.
To access this information we probed relative levels of close to 600 secreted signaling proteins from patients’ blood samples using antibody microarrays and mapped disease-specific molecular networks. Using these networks as seeds we then employed independent genome and transcriptome data sets to corroborate potential pathogenic pathways.
We identified Growth-Differentiation Factor (GDF) signaling as a novel Alzheimer’s disease-relevant pathway supported by in vivo and in vitro follow-up experiments, demonstrating the existence of a highly informative link between cellular pathology and changes in circulatory signaling proteins.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13024-016-0095-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Background and Purpose
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) precedes both Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia and with Lewy bodies (DLB). We investigated proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) characteristics of MCI patients who progressed to DLB compared to those who progressed to AD dementia or remained stable.
Consecutive MCI patients who underwent single voxel MRS at baseline and progressed to DLB (n=10) were identified during a median follow-up period of 18 months. From the same cohort, we identified age- and sex-matched MCI patients who progressed to AD dementia (n=27) or remained stable (n=20) during a similar follow-up period. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board and informed consent was from every subject.
MCI patients who progressed to AD dementia were characterized by lower N-acetylaspartate (NAA)/Cr ratio in the posterior cingulate voxel compared to those who progressed to DLB (p=0.001). Decreased NAA/Cr in the posterior cingulate voxel differentiated MCI patients who progressed to DLB from those who progressed to AD with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.85 (p<0.001) on logistic regression analysis.
MRS may be useful in differentiating MCI patients with prodromal AD dementia from those with prodromal DLB for early disease-specific interventions.
Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS); mild cognitive impairment (MCI); dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB); Alzheimer's disease; MRI
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is characterized by preserved whole brain and medial temporal lobe volumes compared to Alzheimer’s disease dementia (AD) on MRI. However, frequently coexistent AD-type pathology may influence the pattern of regional brain atrophy rates in DLB patients. We investigated the pattern and magnitude of the atrophy rates from two serial MRIs in autopsy-confirmed DLB (n=20) and mixed DLB/AD patients (n=22), compared to AD (n=30) and elderly non-demented controls (n=15), followed antemortem. DLB patients without significant AD-type pathology were characterized by lower global and regional rates of atrophy, similar to controls. The mixed DLB/AD patients displayed greater rates in the whole brain, temporo-parietal cortices, hippocampus and amygdala, and ventricle expansion, similar to AD patients. In the DLB and DLB/AD patients, the atrophy rates correlated with Braak neurofibrillary tangle stage, cognitive decline and progression of motor symptoms. Global and regional atrophy rates are associated with AD-type pathology in DLB, and can be used as biomarkers of AD progression in patients with LB pathology.
autopsy-confirmed dementia with Lewy bodies; Alzheimer’s disease; serial MRI; atrophy rate; Braak neurofibrillary tangle stage; sample size estimate
Subsystems within the default mode network are differentially affected in Alzheimer’s disease. Jones et al. present an in-depth analysis of changes within these subsystems and relate them to biomarker profiles across the Alzheimer’s disease spectrum. Results support a cascading network failure model of Alzheimer’s disease.
Subsystems within the default mode network are differentially affected in Alzheimer’s disease. Jones et al. present an in-depth analysis of changes within these subsystems and relate them to biomarker profiles across the Alzheimer’s disease spectrum. Results support a cascading network failure model of Alzheimer’s disease.
Complex biological systems are organized across various spatiotemporal scales with particular scientific disciplines dedicated to the study of each scale (e.g. genetics, molecular biology and cognitive neuroscience). When considering disease pathophysiology, one must contemplate the scale at which the disease process is being observed and how these processes impact other levels of organization. Historically Alzheimer’s disease has been viewed as a disease of abnormally aggregated proteins by pathologists and molecular biologists and a disease of clinical symptoms by neurologists and psychologists. Bridging the divide between these scales has been elusive, but the study of brain networks appears to be a pivotal inroad to accomplish this task. In this study, we were guided by an emerging systems-based conceptualization of Alzheimer’s disease and investigated changes in brain networks across the disease spectrum. The default mode network has distinct subsystems with unique functional-anatomic connectivity, cognitive associations, and responses to Alzheimer’s pathophysiology. These distinctions provide a window into the systems-level pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease. Using clinical phenotyping, metadata, and multimodal neuroimaging data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, we characterized the pattern of default mode network subsystem connectivity changes across the entire disease spectrum (n = 128). The two main findings of this paper are (i) the posterior default mode network fails before measurable amyloid plaques and appears to initiate a connectivity cascade that continues throughout the disease spectrum; and (ii) high connectivity between the posterior default mode network and hubs of high connectivity (many located in the frontal lobe) is associated with amyloid accumulation. These findings support a system model best characterized by a cascading network failure—analogous to cascading failures seen in power grids triggered by local overloads proliferating to downstream nodes eventually leading to widespread power outages, or systems failures. The failure begins in the posterior default mode network, which then shifts processing burden to other systems containing prominent connectivity hubs. This model predicts a connectivity ‘overload’ that precedes structural and functional declines and recasts the interpretation of high connectivity from that of a positive compensatory phenomenon to that of a load-shifting process transiently serving a compensatory role. It is unknown whether this systems-level pathophysiology is the inciting event driving downstream molecular events related to synaptic activity embedded in these systems. Possible interpretations include that the molecular-level events drive the network failure, a pathological interaction between the network-level and the molecular-level, or other upstream factors are driving both.
Alzheimer’s disease; pathophysiology; cascading failure; complex systems; default mode network
Background and Objectives
It remains unknown whether the association between diabetes mellitus (DM) and cognitive function differs in Eastern and Western populations. This study aimed to elucidate whether DM is associated with worse cognitive performance in both populations.
The Shanghai Aging Study (SAS) and the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging (MCSA) are two population-based studies with similar design and methodology in Shanghai, China and Rochester, MN USA. Non-demented participants underwent cognitive testing, and DM was assessed from the medical record. Separate analyses were performed in SAS and MCSA regarding the association between DM and cognitive performance.
A total of 3348 Chinese participants in the SAS and 3734 American subjects in the MCSA were included. Compared with MCSA subjects, SAS participants were younger, less educated, and had lower frequency of vascular disease, APOE ε4 carriers and obesity. Participants with DM (compared to non-DM participants) performed significantly worse on all the cognitive domains in both the SAS and MCSA. After adjustment for age, sex and education, and vascular covariates, DM was associated with worse performance in executive function (β= −0.15, p = 0.001 for SAS, and β= −0.10, p = 0.008 for MCSA) in the total sample and in the cognitively normal sub-sample. Furthermore, DM was associated with poor performance in visuospatial skills, language, and memory in the SAS, but not in the MCSA.
Diabetes is associated with cognitive dysfunction, in particular exerts a negative impact on executive function regardless of race, age and prevalence of vascular risk factors.
cognition; diabetes mellitus; executive function; cross-sectional studies
Repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) are an important cause of both motor neuron disease (MND) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Currently, little is known about factors that could account for the phenotypic heterogeneity detected in C9ORF72 expansion carriers. In this study, we investigated four genes that could represent genetic modifiers: ataxin-2 (ATXN2), non-imprinted in Prader-Willi/Angelman syndrome 1 (NIPA1), survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) and survival motor neuron 2 (SMN2). Assessment of these genes, in a unique cohort of 331 C9ORF72 expansion carriers and 376 controls, revealed that intermediate repeat lengths in ATXN2 possibly act as disease modifier in C9ORF72 expansion carriers; no evidence was provided for a potential role of NIPA1, SMN1 or SMN2. The effects of intermediate ATXN2 repeats were most profound in probands with MND or FTD/MND (2.1% versus 0% in controls, P=0.013), whereas the frequency in probands with FTD was identical to controls. Though intermediate ATXN2 repeats were already known to be associated with MND risk, previous reports did not focus on individuals with clear pathogenic mutations, such as repeat expansions in C9ORF72. Based on our present findings, we postulate that intermediate ATXN2 repeat lengths may render C9ORF72 expansion carriers more susceptible to the development of MND; further studies are needed, however, to validate our findings.
C9ORF72; ataxin-2; ATXN2; motor neuron disease; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal dementia; disease modifier
Clinical and neuropathological characteristics associated with G4C2 repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72), the most common genetic cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia, are highly variable. To gain insight on the molecular basis for the heterogeneity among C9ORF72 mutation carriers, we evaluated associations between features of disease and levels of two abundantly expressed “c9RAN proteins” produced by repeat-associated non-ATG (RAN) translation of the expanded repeat. For these studies, we took a departure from traditional immunohistochemical approaches and instead employed immunoassays to quantitatively measure poly(GP) and poly(GA) levels in cerebellum, frontal cortex, motor cortex, and/or hippocampus from 55 C9ORF72 mutation carriers [12 patients with ALS, 24 with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and 19 with FTLD with motor neuron disease (FTLD-MND)]. We additionally investigated associations between levels of poly(GP) or poly(GA) and cognitive impairment in 15 C9ORF72 ALS patients for whom neuropsychological data were available. Among the neuroanatomical regions investigated, poly(GP) levels were highest in the cerebellum. In this same region, associations between poly(GP) and both neuropathological and clinical features were detected. Specifically, cerebellar poly(GP) levels were significantly lower in patients with ALS compared to patients with FTLD or FTLD-MND. Furthermore, cerebellar poly(GP) associated with cognitive score in our cohort of 15 patients. In the cerebellum, poly(GA) levels similarly trended lower in the ALS subgroup compared to FTLD or FTLD-MND subgroups, but no association between cerebellar poly(GA) and cognitive score was detected. Both cerebellar poly(GP) and poly(GA) associated with C9ORF72 variant 3 mRNA expression, but not variant 1 expression, repeat size, disease onset, or survival after onset. Overall, these data indicate that cerebellar abnormalities, as evidenced by poly(GP) accumulation, associate with neuropathological and clinical phenotypes, in particular cognitive impairment, of C9ORF72 mutation carriers.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-015-1474-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9ORF72 repeat expansion; c9RAN proteins; Cognition; Dipeptide repeat proteins; Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Neuropathological diagnosis; Repeat-associated non-ATG translation
Our objective was to examine associations between glucose metabolism, as measured by 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET), and age and to evaluate the impact of carriage of an apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele on glucose metabolism and on the associations between glucose metabolism and age. We studied 806 cognitively normal (CN) and 70 amyloid-imaging-positive cognitively impaired participants (35 with mild cognitive impairment and 35 with Alzheimer’s disease [AD] dementia) from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, Mayo Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and an ancillary study who had undergone structural MRI, FDG PET, and 11C-Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) PET. Using partial volume corrected and uncorrected FDG PET glucose uptake ratios, we evaluated associations of regional FDG ratios with age and carriage of an APOE ε4 allele in CN participants between the ages of 30 and 95 years, and compared those findings with the cognitively impaired participants. In region-of-interest (ROI) analyses, we found modest but statistically significant declines in FDG ratio in most cortical and subcortical regions as a function of age. We also found a main effect of APOE ε4 genotype on FDG ratio, with greater uptake in ε4 noncarriers compared with carriers but only in the posterior cingulate and/or precuneus, lateral parietal, and AD-signature meta-ROI. The latter consisted of voxels from posterior cingulate and/or precuneus, lateral parietal, and inferior temporal. In age- and sex-matched CN participants the magnitude of the difference in partial volume corrected FDG ratio in the AD-signature meta-ROI for APOE ε4 carriers compared with noncarriers was about 4 times smaller than the magnitude of the difference between age- and sex-matched elderly APOE ε4 carrier CN compared with AD dementia participants. In an analysis in participants older than 70 years (31.3% of whom had elevated PiB), there was no interaction between PiB status and APOE ε4 genotype with respect to glucose metabolism. Glucose metabolism declines with age in many brain regions. Carriage of an APOE ε4 allele was associated with reductions in FDG ratio in the posterior cingulate and/or precuneus, lateral parietal, and AD-signature ROIs, and there was no interaction between age and APOE ε4 status. The posterior cingulate and/or precuneus and lateral parietal regions have a unique vulnerability to reductions in glucose metabolic rate as a function both of age and carriage of an APOE ε4 allele.
Aging; Alzheimer’s disease; FDG positron emission tomography; Apolipoprotein E
To investigate clinical, imaging, and pathologic associations of the cingulate island sign (CIS) in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).
We retrospectively identified and compared patients with a clinical diagnosis of DLB (n = 39); patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) matched by age, sex, and education (n = 39); and cognitively normal controls (n = 78) who underwent 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) and C11 Pittsburgh compound B (PiB)-PET scans. Among these patients, we studied those who came to autopsy and underwent Braak neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) staging (n = 10).
Patients with a clinical diagnosis of DLB had a higher ratio of posterior cingulate to precuneus plus cuneus metabolism, cingulate island sign (CIS), on FDG-PET than patients with AD (p < 0.001), a finding independent of β-amyloid load on PiB-PET (p = 0.56). Patients with CIS positivity on visual assessment of FDG-PET fit into the group of high- or intermediate-probability DLB pathology and received clinical diagnosis of DLB, not AD. Higher CIS ratio correlated with lower Braak NFT stage (r = −0.96; p < 0.001).
Our study found that CIS on FDG-PET is not associated with fibrillar β-amyloid deposition but indicates lower Braak NFT stage in patients with DLB. Identifying biomarkers that measure relative contributions of underlying pathologies to dementia is critical as neurotherapeutics move toward targeted treatments.
Although rates of incident dementia have been reported from several populations, the impact of nonparticipation on dementia incidence in studies of cognitive aging is unknown. In 2004, investigators with the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging selected persons aged 70–89 years from an enumeration of all Olmsted County, Minnesota, residents (age- and sex-stratified random sample). Of 4,398 potential participants, 2,050 agreed to undergo an in-person health assessment. Those participants were reevaluated in person using standard diagnostic procedures approximately every 15 months over a median follow-up period of 5.7 years (through September 15, 2013). There were 1,679 persons who refused any participation. A trained nurse abstractor reviewed the medical records of nonparticipants using the Rochester Epidemiology Project's medical record linkage system a median of 3.9 years after refusal. Nonparticipants had a higher prevalence of dementia than participants evaluated in person (6.5% vs. 3.3%; P < 0.0001). The standardized incidence of dementia was not significantly higher among the nonparticipants (23.2 per 1,000 person-years) than in those evaluated in person (19.6 per 1,000 person-years; hazard ratio = 1.17, 95% confidence interval: 0.95, 1.43 (P = 0.13); adjusted for education and sex, with age as the time scale). The small, nonsignificant impact of nonparticipation on rates of incident dementia is reassuring for future studies based on incident dementia cases.
aging; cognition; cognitive aging; dementia; epidemiologic methods; incidence; prevalence
Widespread deposition of TAR DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43), a major protein inclusion commonly found in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can also be seen in a subset of cases with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Some of these AD cases have TDP-43 immunoreactivity in basal ganglia (BG) and substantia nigra (SN), regions that when affected can be associated with parkinsonian signs or symptoms, or even features suggestive of frontotemporal dementia. Here, we examined the presence of clinical features of FTLD, parkinsonian signs and symptoms, and BG atrophy on MRI, in 51 pathologically confirmed AD cases (Braak neurofibrillary tangle stage IV–VI) with widespread TDP-43 deposition, with and without BG and SN involvement. All 51 cases had presented with progressive cognitive impairment with prominent memory deficits. None of the patients demonstrated early behavioral disinhibition, apathy, loss of empathy, stereotyped behavior, hyperorality, and/or executive deficits. Furthermore, TDP-43 deposition in BG or SN had no significant association with tremor (p = 0.80), rigidity (p = 0.19), bradykinesia (p = 0.19), and gait/postural instability (p = 0.39). Volumes of the BG structures were not associated with TDP-43 deposition in the BG. The present study demonstrates that TDP-43 deposition in pathologically confirmed AD cases is not associated with a clinical manifestation suggestive of FTLD, or parkinsonian features.
TDP-43; Alzheimer’s disease; Frontotemporal dementia; Parkinsonism
To determine antemortem MRI findings associated with microinfarcts at autopsy.
Patients with microinfarcts (n = 22) and patients without microinfarcts (n = 44) who underwent antemortem MRI were identified from a dementia clinic–based, population–based, and community clinic–based autopsy cohort. The microinfarct and no-microinfarct groups were matched on age at MRI, age at death, sex, APOE status, Mini-Mental State Examination score, and pathologic diagnosis of Alzheimer disease. Brain infarcts were assessed on fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) MRI. White matter hyperintensities on FLAIR MRI and hippocampal volumes on T1-weighted MRI were quantified using automated methods. A subset of subjects with microinfarcts (n = 15) and a matched group of subjects without microinfarcts (n = 15) had serial T1-weighted MRIs and were included in an analysis of global and regional brain atrophy rates using automated methods.
The presence of cortical (p = 0.03) and subcortical (p = 0.02) infarcts on antemortem MRI was associated with presence of microinfarcts at autopsy. Higher numbers of cortical (p = 0.05) and subcortical (p = 0.03) infarcts on antemortem MRI were also associated with presence of microinfarcts. Presence of microinfarcts was not associated with white matter hyperintensities and cross-sectional hippocampal volume on antemortem MRI. Whole-brain and regional precuneus, motor, and somatosensory atrophy rates were higher in subjects with microinfarcts compared to subjects without microinfarcts.
Microinfarcts increase brain atrophy rates independent of Alzheimer disease pathology. Association between microinfarct pathology and macroinfarcts on MRI suggests either common risk factors or a shared pathophysiology and potentially common preventive targets.